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Coordinates: 52°33′10″N 2°01′10″W / 52.5529°N 2.0195°W / 52.5529; -2.0195

Wednesbury
Wednesbury is located in West Midlands
Wednesbury

 Wednesbury shown within the West Midlands
Population 24,337 (2001 census)
OS grid reference SO986950
    - London  125.9m 
Metropolitan borough Sandwell
Metropolitan county West Midlands
Region West Midlands
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Post town WEDNESBURY
Postcode district WS10
Dialling code 0121
Police West Midlands
Fire West Midlands
Ambulance West Midlands
EU Parliament West Midlands
UK Parliament West Bromwich West
List of places: UK • England • West Midlands

Wednesbury is a market town in England's Black Country, part of the Sandwell metropolitan borough in West Midlands, near the source of the River Tame. Similarly to the word Wednesday, it is pronounced Wenz-bur-ree, /ˈwɛnzb(ə)ri/.

Contents

History

It is believed that Wednesbury was originally founded as an Iron Age hill fort. The first authenticated spelling of the name was Wodensbyri, written in an endorsement on the back of the copy of the will of Wulfric Scot, dated 1004.

Wednesbury is one of the oldest parts of the Black Country. The "bury" part of the name indicates there may have been an Iron Age fort or "beorg" on Church Hill as long ago as 200BC, and the town was certainly a key defensive feature of the later, English kingdom of Mercia when it believed that Alfred the Great's daughter, Ethelfleda, built a fort there as part of her defences against the Vikings. However, the ending "beorg", meaning a fort, usually leads to modern place-names ending in "borough." The ending "-bury" comes from the old English word "burgh" meaning a hill or barrow.[1] So "Wednesbury" may mean "Woden's Hill" or "Woden's barrow".

Historically Wednesbury was in the county of Staffordshire; in 1086, the Domesday Book describes Wednesbury (Wadnesberie) as being a thriving rural community encompassing Bloxwich and Shelfield (now part of Walsall). During the Middle Ages the town was a rural village, with each family farming a strip of land with nearby heath being used for grazing. The town was held by the King until the reign of Henry II, when it passed to the Heronville family.

Mediaeval Wednesbury was very small, and its inhabitants would appear to have been farmers and farm workers. In 1315, coal pits were first found and recorded in Wednesbury, which led to an increase in the number of jobs offered there. Nail making was also in progress during these times. William Paget was born in Wednesbury in 1505, the son of a nail maker. He is noted as having risen to the position of Secretary of State, a Knight of the Garter and an Ambassador. He was one of executors of the will of Henry VIII.

In the 17th century Wednesbury pottery - "Wedgbury ware" - was being sold as far away as Worcester, while white clay from Monway Field was used to make tobacco pipes.

By the 18th century the town's main occupations were coal mining[2] and nail making. With the introduction of the first turnpike road in 1727 and the development of canals and later the railways came a big increase in population.[2] In 1769, Wednesbury's canal banks were soon full of factories as in this year, the first Birmingham Canal was cut to link Wednesbury's coalfields to the Birmingham industries.

In 1743 the Wesleys and their new Methodist movement were severely tested in Wednesbury. Early in the year, both John and Charles Wesley preached in the open air on the Tump[3]. They were warmly received by the people and made welcome by the vicar. Soon afterwards another preacher came and was rude about the current state of the Anglican clergy. This angered the vicar and the magistrates published a notice ordering that any further preachers were to be brought to them. When John Wesley next came his supporters were still there but a crowd of others heckled him and threw stones. Later the crowd came to his lodgings and took him to the magistrates. However both magistrates declined to have anything to do with Wesley or the crowd. The crowd ill-treated Wesley and nearly killed him but he remained calm. Eventually they came to their senses and returned him to his hosts.

Soon afterwards the vicar asked his congregation to pledge not to associate with Methodists and some who refused to pledge had their windows smashed. Others who ventured to host Methodist meetings had the contents of their houses destroyed as well. This terrible episode came to an end in December when the vicar died. After that Anglican/Methodist relations were generally cordial. Methodism grew strongly in Wednesbury and John Wesley visited often, almost until his death [4] [5]. Francis Asbury, Richard Whatcoat and the Earl of Dartmouth are among those who attended Methodist meetings in the town. All of them were in different ways to have a profound effect on the United States.[6]

Wednesbury Museum & Art Gallery

In 1887, Brunswick Park was opened to celebrate Queen Victoria's Golden Jubilee.[7][8] The previous year, Wednesbury had become a Municipal Borough.[9]

During the later half of the 20th century, Wednesbury's industry declined, but new developments such as an automotive park, a retail park and the newly pedestrian-only Union Street have given a new look to the town. The traditional market is still a feature of the bustling centre; while the streets around Market Place are now a protected conservation area.[10]

Wednesbury became a municipal borough in 1866, and continued in existence until 1966 when it was partitioned, with small parts of the town placed within the County Borough of Walsall and the majority of the town within the County Borough of West Bromwich,[11], which then itself merged with the County Borough of Warley in 1974 to form Sandwell.[12] It now holds the postcode WS10, shared with the town of Darlaston but is part of the Sandwell borough. The postal address for Darlaston is now Darlaston, Wednesbury.

Wednesbury's bus station (renovated 2006) is located in the centre of the town near the swimming baths and links are available to Wolverhampton, Birmingham, West Bromwich, Walsall and the shopping complex of Merry Hill. A new town square area and large Morrisons supermarket opened to service the town in November 2007.

It is served by the Midland Metro light rail (tram) system, with stops at Great Western Street and Wednesbury Parkway. The system's only maintenance depot is also located here. The current line runs from Wolverhampton to Birmingham, and a proposed extension to Brierley Hill is set to open in 2011.[13]

Between 1850 and 1993, the South Staffordshire railway line served Wednesbury. Passenger services were withdrawn after Wednesbury Station closed in 1964 under the Beeching Axe,[14] but a steel terminal soon opened on the site and did not close until December 1992 - three months before the line through Wednesbury closed completely. Until 1972, the town was served by the Great Western Railway between Birmingham and Wolverhampton at Wednesbury Central railway station. Passenger trains were withdrawn at this time, with the Bilston-Wolverhampton and Wednesbury-Birmingham sections of the line closing completely at this time. The section of railway between Wednesbury and Bilston, which served a scrapyard at Bilston, remained open until August 30, 1992 but was re-opened within seven years as part of the Midland Metro.

For many years, Wednesbury was dominated by the huge Patent Shaft steel works. The factory sprang up in the 19th century and remained active until its closure in 1980. This caused mass unemployment in and around Wednesbury. The factory was demolished several years later, and by the mid-1990s it had been developed as an enterprise zone - one of several government initiatives to bring employment to areas suffering economic decline due to deindustrialisation. However, the iron gates of the factory are still in existence today, thirty years after its closure.

Wednesbury is situated on Thomas Telford's London to Holyhead road which was built in the early 19th century. The section of this road between Wednesbury and Moxley was widened in 1997 to form a dual carriageway, completing the Black Country Spine Road that had been in development since 1995, when the route between Wednesbury and West Bromwich had opened, along with a one-mile route to the north of Moxley which provided a link with the Black Country Route. The original plan had been for a completely new route to be built between Wednesbury and Moxley, but this was abandoned in favour of widening the existing route as part of cost-cutting measures.

Stuckist show at Wednesbury Museum & Art Gallery, 2003

In 2003, Wednesbury Museum and Art Gallery staged Stuck in Wednesbury,[15] the first show in a public gallery of the Stuckism international art movement.[16]

Neighbourhoods

  • Church Hill
  • Brunswick
  • Friar Park
  • Myvod Estate
  • Wood Green
  • New Town
  • Golf Links
  • Woods Estate

Schools

Notable natives/residents

References

  1. ^ Michael Alexander (2002). A History of Old English Literature. Broadview Press. ISBN 1551113228. 
  2. ^ a b John Holland (1835). The History and Description of Fossil Fuel, the Collieries, and Coal Trade of Great Britain. Whittaker ; G.. 
  3. ^ A step for travellers to get on or off their horses
  4. ^ Hackwood, Frederick William (1900), Religious Wednesbury, its Creeds, Churches and Chapels, Dudley 
  5. ^ Wesley, John (1745), Modern Christianity Exemplified at Wednesbury (Second ed.) . Witness statements collected by John Wesley, quoted by Hackwood
  6. ^ John Lednum (1859). A History of the Rise of Methodism in America. Lednum. 
  7. ^ Brunswick Park: Historical Summary
  8. ^ Barratt Homes: Brief history of Wednesbury
  9. ^ BirminghamUK.com: Local Areas - Wednesbury
  10. ^ Sandwell MBC: Conservation
  11. ^ British History Online: West Bromwich Social Life
  12. ^ British Publishing: The Sandwell Official Guide
  13. ^ Department for Transport: Midland Metro (Wednesbury to Brierley Hill) - Inspector's report
  14. ^ Rail Around Birmingham and the West Midlands: Wednesbury Town Station
  15. ^ "Archive: Diary", stuckism.com. Retrieved 30 March 2008.
  16. ^ Milner, Frank ed., The Stuckists Punk Victorian, p.210, National Museums Liverpool 2004, ISBN 1-902700-27-9. An essay from the book is online at stuckism.com.
  17. ^ Reichler, Joseph L., ed (1979) [1969]. The Baseball Encyclopedia (4th edition ed.). New York: Macmillan Publishing. ISBN 0-02-578970-8. 
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1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

WEDNESBURY, a market town and municipal and parlia - mentary borough of Staffordshire, England, in the Black Country, 121 m. N.W. from London by the London & North-Western railway, and on the northern line of the Great Western. Pop. (Igor) 26,554. An overhead electric tramway connects with Walsall, 31 m. N. The town is ancient, but of modern growth and appearance as an industrial centre. The church of St Bartholomew, however, is a fine Perpendicular building, standing high. It is traditionally supposed to occupy the site of a place of the worship of Woden or Odin, and the name of the town to be derived from this god through the form Wodensborough. A church was built, probably in the iith century, and from 1301 to 1.535 the advowson, tithes, &c., belonged to the abbot of Halesowen. The present church was several times restored in the 18th and ,9th centuries. The chief public buildings are the town hall (1872), art gallery (1891), and free library (1878). Coal, limestone and ironstone are mined. A special kind of coal, giving an intense heat, is largely used in forges. There are great iron and steel works, producing every kind of heavy goods used by railway and engineering works, such as boiler plates, rails, axles, tubes, bolts and nuts. Stoneware potteries are also important. Similar industries, with brick-making, are practised at Darlaston, an urban district (pop. 15,395), within the parliamentary borough. Wednesbury returns one member to parliament. The town is governed by a mayor, 4 aldermen, and 12 councillors. Area, 2287 acres.

Here Ethelfleda,widow of 2Ethelred of Mercia, in 916 constructed a castle. The place is not mentioned in Domesday, but appears to have belonged to the barony of Dudley. After the Conquest it became a demesne of the crown, and it was bestowed by Henry II. on the Heronvilles. It received parliamentary representation in 1867, and became a municipal borough in 1886.


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